in my morning quiet time yesterday, i tried to recall all those who had been forces for good in my life and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for them. of course, my long list wasn't a complete one, and i'll return to it to make additions from time to time. i spent some time focusing on my maternal grandmother, a person with whom i spent as much time as i could because she brought such joy to my life. as i pictured her in my mind, the first thing i saw was her hand holding a jadite coffee mug. she always had that mug in her hand, and she sipped coffee from it from the time she began her day until she washed it at the end of the day. i have her and her mother, my great-grandmother, to thank for my lifelong love of coffee.
there is so much more that i thank her for, though. she and my grandfather had a small neighborhood grocery, and i learned many life lessons from watching her interact with their customers. my grandfather was always in the butcher area of the store, but my grandmother's post was behind the cash register near the entry door. to her right was the candy counter with large containers of cookies an arm's length away from her. directly in front of her was an open counter that served as her desk for writing charge tickets, and behind her was the cigarette rack and the large ticket file for keeping up with the customer accounts. from her spot on her work stool, she greeted every customer who came in. it didn't matter who the customer was, all were treated with kindness and respect. the children who came in to by three cents worth of the two-for-a penny cookies were treated in the same way as the affluent customer who came by for a week's worth of groceries. The neighborhood drunk that wanted to charge enough luncheon meat for a sandwich was given the same courtesy as the owner of the dry-cleaning business down the street.
working in my grandparents store was a joyful lesson in life for me, and my grandmother always made me feel that my bumbling efforts as a little boy made her life so much easier, though i'm sure my "help" had just the opposite outcome. she never once spoke unkind words to me, and my mistakes were always treated as a chance for her to teach me gently and lovingly. i never felt that i was in her way or that her life would be easier if she didn't have to explain the complexities of figuring sales tax to me.
what did i learn from my grandmother? first, every person is a gift from God that deserves our kindness, love, and respect. second, children are great blessings and time spent helping a child is never wasted time. third, when someone comes to you in need, you help them, even when it means opening the store for an emergency on Sunday morning, or extending credit to someone that will probably never pay you back. fourth, coffee is one of God's greatest blessings to us. i'll stop there, though the list could go on and on.
my prayer is that each of our lives are filled with people like my grandmother, people whose simple acts of kindness continue to influence our lives for good long after they've departed this life, and that we pay their gifts to us forward in our own lives.